What is the spiritual background of your early years?
I was brought up to question and wonder in a home that fostered curiosity and exploration. As a child, when I asked “why,” I never heard that something happened “just because.” Instead, and in true Jewish fashion, my question was often met with a follow-up question asking me to reflect back what I thought could be the answer. Even when the way I saw the world differed from my parents, their questions led me down a spiritual journey.
As an only child, I often entertained myself: reading, imagining, exploring music, or playing outside. Through this free play, I recall thinking about the spiritual aspects of life at a young age. There was a space at the top of our staircase where the light shined through the window in the morning leaving a circle of warmth on the carpet where I would sit and stare at the rainbow the light left behind. In those meditative moments I would think about God and even feel a sense of comfort from the Divine.
What drew you to the rabbinate?
As I grew out of the years of innocent wondering and child-like exploration, I turned toward years of mature discovery and critical thinking. My congregational rabbis encouraged my questioning and challenges to the “whys” of Judaism. Ultimately, it was this type of dialogue that drew me to the rabbinate. I saw how my rabbis were able to spend their days in relationship with people, as well as reading, writing, being present in pastoral moments, teaching, preaching, crafting worship, and much more, I recognized that these roles aligned with my passions.
What makes you so passionate about Judaism?
I am passionate about Judaism’s ability to make people feel connected to something bigger than themselves — be it God, community, culture, ritual, Israel, etc. Judaism provides a template for uncovering and creating meaning in this world, and I live to share those moments and teachings with my community.
Most recently, one of my greatest passions has come from the ability to connect people to Judaism through Shabbat home rituals. From moments of gratitude, tzedakah, candle lighting, Shalom Aleichem, kiddush, hand washing, and challah before a meal begins to birkat hamazon (grace after meals) and Shabbat songs at the end of the evening, the sense of community formed at a Shabbat dinner table is one that can ignite a growing desire to explore Judaism’s meaning-making abilities. Reorienting my life toward Jewish time in preparing for these dinners has reframed my week so that I think about what I can do Sunday through Thursday to prepare for Shabbat. This reorientation has directed my soul toward the continual craving for Jewish ritual, study, and food.
What is your academic background?
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Jewish Studies from the American Jewish University and continued my education at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion at both the Jerusalem and Cincinnati campuses, where I received a Masters of Hebrew Letters and ordination (2017). From The iCenter: For Israel Education in Chicago, I also received a Master’s Concentration in Israel Education and made numerous educational trips to Israel following my year first year living there with my HUC-JIR classmates. My thesis, “The Female Rabbi: Redefining the Symbolic Exemplar,” uncovered how women influenced and continue to influence the changing tides of the Reform rabbinate. During my years at the College-Institute, I served congregations in Rapid City, SD, Sandusky, OH, Seminole, OK, and I.M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati.
I love to exercise, play my guitar and cello, and make sure that I am well caffeinated. I am a passionate photographer and I regularly update my Instagram with photos of my travels. I am a Zionist and a foodie, so I am always up for a conversation about the best hummus in Israel — it’s at Samir’s in Ramle.